Published by Penguin on 2005
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Thrillers, Suspense
Reading Challenges: 2017 COYER Summer Reading List
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Few authors inspire the kind of passion that Arturo Pérez-Reverte does. Reviewers, readers, and booksellers alike have embraced his fiction as the perfect blend of suspense and literary ambition. A global bestseller, he is one of the most admired and widely read authors in the world. And his stunning new novel is his best yet.
A remarkable tale, The Queen of the South spans continents, from the dusty streets of Mexico to the sparkling waters off the coast of Morocco, to Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar. A sweeping story set to the irresistible beat of the drug smugglers' ballads, it encompasses sensuality and cruelty, love and betrayal, as its heroine's story unfolds.
Teresa Mendoza's boyfriend is a drug smuggler who the narcos of Sinaloa, Mexico, call "the king of the short runway," because he can get a plane full of coke off the ground in three hundred yards. But in a ruthless business, life can be short, and Teresa even has a special cell phone that Guero gave her along with a dark warning. If that phone rings, it means he's dead, and she'd better run, because they're coming for her next.
Then the call comes.
In order to survive, she will have to say goodbye to the old Teresa, an innocent girl who once entrusted her life to a pinche narco smuggler. She will have to find inside herself a woman who is tough enough to inhabit a world as ugly and dangerous as that of the narcos-a woman she never before knew existed. Indeed, the woman who emerges will surprise even those who know her legend, that of the Queen of the South.
“I ask myself how other people see me, and I hope they see me from way far away.”
July’s book club selection was Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s Queen of the South. This novel has been adapted a couple of times for television. The first time as a telenovela, and the second as the American remake which airs on cable. I had seen most of the first season of the remake and was surprised to find that it was quite different from the source material. The novel is about a woman, Teresa Mendoza, who goes from being the paramour of a drug mule to the head of a drug empire. Readers not only get a glimpse into this dangerous world but also get to travel with Teresa as she moves from Mexico to North Africa and then Spain.
I find myself quite torn in regards to this novel. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading Teresa’s story. It was suspenseful, and I connected with her as a character. On the other hand, Reverte’s writing style was difficult for me to get into the story. This novel is told from two points of view – Teresa’s and a reporter who’s chronicling her tale. Because of this, the story changes back and forth from first person to third within the same chapter. Not only this but as the story changes POV it also changes between time periods in Teresa’s life. This often caused me to re-read sections of the chapters due to lack of understanding, and honestly, I didn’t get into the story until almost halfway through the novel.
The other problem I suffered from while reading the novel was comparing it to the U.S. version of the television series. Since I had seen the tv show first, I kept visualizing the actors from the show, and would constantly get confused wherever the novel differed. Which was most of the book. I eventually read passed events I’d seen depicted in the show and then the problem ceased. I’ve heard the telenovela is better, and plan to watch it on Netflix sometime soon. While this is a decent novel, I won’t claim to have it at the top of my recommendation list. The story is well-written, the characters are well-developed and complex, and the story is quite memorable. However, if you are looking for a quick read, this isn’t it.